Year 2020/21 – Season 8
Continuing from my previous post, we had 6 games left to go in the English Premier League and two matches against Manchester City in the quarter finals of the Champions League. I’m a bit torn as to which one I really want. I’d like a 6th English league title in 8 seasons but I also want a first Champions League win not just for me but for my Newcastle United team too.
First up was Norwich who were struggling in a relegation fight so I had some of my under 18 players get some game time in this match. And two of them ended up scoring their first goals for the senior team! Not bad at all boys. One of them ended up the man of the match in just his second match with the senior team. 3-0 winners.
Next was our 2nd leg quarter final match in the Champions League against Manchester City. We’ve never gone past the quarter final stages in this competition before but the good news for us is that we had 1-0 lead in the first leg and it was an away game too. It was an interesting game but no goals. So I made the switch to get Jose Villar, my Spanish re-gen from Madrid, to try his luck in place of Adam Campbell. And wow he repaid me back nicely. Two goals in the last two minutes to seal the 2-0 win, 3-o in both legs! We’re in the semi-final, this is uncharted terriorty for Newcastle United. Just one problem…we’ve got Real Madrid to deal with next. And in the six games we’ve played against them before, not one win to our names.
Then we had an away match to West Ham and the last time we had that match, we lost. I didn’t want to take the risk but I also didn’t want to tire my players out so once again I looked to the junior players. And this time it backfired. They scored within 9 minutes. We turned it around to lead 2-1 after 18 minutes but the Hammers got their equaliser o the 66th minute. 2-2 was the end result. And with Man City winning their match, they had closed right up.
Next up is the first leg of the semi finals in the Champions League. We played Madrid home so the objective was to make sure they did not score, we don’t want them having the away goal advantage going to their home game. It was going well for us, Campbell scored in the first minute of the second half, and I jumped out of my seat at 2am in the bloody morning. Yes, I’m really into this. With four minutes to go, they scored. What a crushing feeling. Not what we wanted. At least Aston Villa did us a huge favour by holding City to a draw. Norwich couldn’t do the same in the next round of games, they lost 2-1. We beat Cardiff 4-0, once again with some of the junior players having some match time and again, two of them scored!
Now for the vital second leg match against Real Madrid at their home. Do we play defensive to give ourselves a chance? Hell no. Stick to the gameplan that has won us many games. No attack, no chance! And it worked like a charm. Mullin scored twice in 10 minutes to give us a 2-0 lead. My German re-gen center back, Dennis Neumann, who Madrid have been chasing after for a few years now too, got us the third goal. We’re leading 3-0 at Madrid against a team we’ve never beaten before! That all changed with the final whistle, WE’RE INTO THE FINALS!
City demolished Stoke 3-0 and the next day, we had to travel to North London to play Arsenal. With Manchester United drawing their match with Swansea, surely it’s now down to us and Manchester City. It was a close game, we hit the crossbar probably three times but finally got our goal just before half time thanks to James Rodriguez. With 8 minutes to go, one of my re-gen defenders scored to make it 2-0.
It was even sweeter since he played for Arsenal for 5 months on loan there and didn’t get much game time there. They scored immediately thanks to Yassine Benzia but it wasn’t enough, we beat them 2-1! At their home too! The next match would surely settle the English Premier League champions. If we beat Manchester City, we’re the champions.
No defensive formation once again from us. It’s all attack. As F1/IndyCar driver Takuma Sato would say “no attack, no chance”. Within 30 seconds we got the first goal thanks to the local lad Adam Campbell. For the rest of the match I was almost biting my fingernails, hoping the team could hold on. We got our second goal thanks to Belarus winger Savitskiy. City got one back in the dying minutes of the game but it’s not enough. WE’RE THE CHAMPIONS! Sixth English league title in eight years for Newcastle United. Not bad at all.
I was resting some of my players for the final league game against West Brom and we had no issues, we beat them 4-1. It didn’t start well as they took the lead. Rodriguez got our equaliser 8 minutes later. Campbell added two more goals and our young Spanish re-gen from Madrid, Jose Villar, got the last league goal of the season for us. 88 points in total, not our highest but still better than expected, especially since we were down in 4th going into the new year!
So for those wonder what my team looks like, here you go (the ones with the red lines are re-gens):
Yup, I’ve got eight players with 4 star rating or higher and that’s just my first team, I’ve got a few more in my under-21 team and a lot more in my under-18 team. Check out Mullin’s value. £51m! As of right now in my game, he now has the highest value of any player, Barcelona’s Neymar is valued at £50m and the next highest is Real Madrid’s Isco at £41m. I’ve got a world beater on my hands and he’s still only 23!
My two favourite players in the team at the moment has to be my two English strikers. They just know when to score and that’s always good and both have had different paths going into my first choice. One has a 5 star rating, the only has 2.5 star rating but both have been brilliant for me.
Here’s Mullin career league stats as of right now:
And here’s Campbell career league stats:
It’s kinda weird that even though Campbell is 3 years older, they’ve had similar stats. I’ve sent Campbell on loan to a few teams and he’s scored goals for them, especially Celtic in the Champions League. Worked out well for me when he was scoring goals for us like nothing in the Champions League too. Mullin was alright for Blackburn and Manchester United but in his first full season, he was on fire. 30 goals, 32 the next, and ok only 24 this time but once again he was top goalscorer in the English League (and tied for the top in the Champions League too with 11).
And to think I’ve got a brilliant Argentine re-gen, Gabriel Romeo, having a brilliant season himself at Fiorentina scoring 29 goals in 37 league games, next season should be fun! And Villar is still going to get better and we’ve got two English re-gens with 4.5 star ratings in the under-18 team. Looks like there are more trophies to come for this Newcastle team. Here’s how we progressed to the Champions League glory!
Also for next season, it looks like we could break not one but two long standing Newcastle United records in two seasons time. The most league goals for club record is held by the legend Jackie Milburn has the record of 177 league goals. My new legend, Mullin, has 106 goals right now. Two more 30+ goals a season and he’ll overtake that record easily. As for the most league appearance for club, that record is held by Jimmy Lawrence with 431 games. My goalkeeper Tim Krul is on 390 league starts for us.
And since I took over, he’s started EVERY league game. Which is, 8 seasons x 38 games = All 304 leagues games I’ve been in charge, Krul has been in between the posts. Doing the maths, if Krul starts all league games next season, which he should unless he gets injured, he’ll end next season with 428 league games, just three shy of the record. So both records could be broken in my 10th season in charge of Newcastle, nice timing there haha!
So after my eight season in charge of Newcastle United, what have we won all this time?
- x6 English Premier League (2014, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2020, 2021)
- x1 Champions League (2021)
- x1 UEFA Cup (2018)
- x1 European Super Cup (2018) – possibly a second if we win our match vs the UEFA champions Arsenal next season
- x1 English FA Cup (2018)
- x2 Captial One Cup (2014, 2017)
- x3 English Community Shield (2014, 2015, 2016)
Hopefully more to come in the next few seasons!
Also, this was the season when Bolton Wanderers, formerly in the Premier League for a good 10+ years or so, fell out of the English League 2 tier which means they’re no longer part of the Football League. That’s a damn shame. They were relegated from the EPL in 2012. Then in my game, they spent 7 seasons in the Championships before getting relegated in 2019. The next season? Relegated from League 1. And the season after that which was this season? Relegated from League 2. Three consecutive relegations, not cool. With the points they had, they would have stayed up but because they entered admission, they were docked 10 points. How many points did they miss the cut by? 2 points. How cruel is that. Good luck to them getting back up. I offered them to be my feeder team but they didn’t want it, they were happy with Liverpool. Haha, as if they’ll help them out.
How many of us football/soccer fans have always wondered what it would be like if we were the ones managing our teams? Could we do a better job than the bugger that the current job on a computer game? Well, we’ve got the brilliant Football Manager series on PC to give us that imagination. I’ve played the game since I was about 9 or 10 and it’s probably my favourite game on the PC. I don’t know why I’m so into that game, maybe it’s just the idea of making your own team and see how they go.
Now that it’s my holiday period from school, I got back into my Football Manager 2014 game and instead of continuing with either my save game for Monza (lowest playable Italian league) or Racing Satander (lowest playable Spanish league). As fun as it is to bring a small team up to the big leagues, which I have done so for the English (Stockport) and Scottish (Queen’s Park) leagues, I wanted to try managing a team I actually like in real life and see how it goes. So I went for a game with Newcastle United, my second favourite team of all time. So imagine Alan Pardew getting replaced at a team like Newcastle United by an unknown 25-year old manager from Singapore! Thanks to FM, it can happen haha!
Be warned, it’s a long post. Seven and a half seasons worth of stories so yup…
Year 2013/14 – Season 1
Starting the game off, I didn’t make that many changes to the team because it actually looked really good. The only signing I made was Jesse Lingard on loan from Manchester United as a back-up to my wingers. I started off trying a 4-1-2-2-1 or 4-5-1 or 4-3-3, whatever makes you happy.
My first competitive match ended up as a 1-1 draw away at Cardiff. After that my team had a really good run, winning 9 of the next 12 EPL matches, including wins over Manchester United and Liverpool. Who gave us our first defeat? Manchester City. No surprises there right? But it was abit of a surprise for me to have that first defeat come in December. Not bad for a “rookie manager”.
The first player I signed was Tim Cahill from New York for £400k. That’s not the only guy I nabbed from the American League, I also signed up Landon Donovan from Los Angeles for £1.8m. Both of them added more firepower for my team so that’s always good. I even signed Joleon Lescott for free after Manchester City released him. I needed some back-up in defence, why not get an English national player? As for the first player I sold, it was the utter rubbish Mike Williamson to Wigan under a million.
Things were going really well for my first season, leading the way at one point in January and beating Chelsea over two legs in the semi-finals of the Capital One cup. We beat Everton in the final to win the first trophy for Newcastle in a long time! One down, two to go! With one game left to go, the team beat Southampton 3-2 to win the English Premier League! Yes, Newcastle United won the EPL! In my first season too, I wasn’t expecting it. Two down, one more to go. Too bad the FA Cup didn’t go so well in the final, we lost to Chelsea.
Year 2014/15 – Season 2
Now that we’ve won the EPL, can we do it again? And not just that, we’ve got Champions League football to look forward to, which means more players wouldn’t mind joining us. With my first choice right back Mathieu Debuchy off to Paris for a £22m deal, I used that money to get Southampton’s right back and probably the next best English right back, Nathaniel Clyne for £16.5m. Is he worth that amount? Probably not but with the way the game works, I had to. I mean, they were asking for £40m for Luke Shaw! Hell no!
I signed up a few more youngsters for my team, Ryan Gauld from Dundee United, Conor Wickham from Sunderland and Pavel Savitskiy from Barcelona, all worth a combined £17.5m. The latter was a must buy for me as my scouts gave him a 4 star rating. The way I work is that if someone has less than 3 star rating potential, I wouldn’t consider him. But for the rest:
3 star – Last resort if I can’t sign anyone
3.5 star – If I can’t find anyone from that particular position, then this one will do
4 star – If I can, I’ll sign him up, If I can’t, that’s ok. There’ll be someone else anyway.
4.5 star – I’ll go after this guy for a certain amount. A must get but if the price is too much, then no.
5 star – MUST SIGN THIS GUY. No matter what, he’ll be a world class player. So sign him at all cost!
The lad from Barcelona had a 4 star rating so I tried my luck, hoping maybe Barcelona would consider selling him and they did! What a steal I got for that guy, went straight into my team and did well. Those weren’t the only youngsters I got. As you know in FM, there are the re-gens, which are players created by the game to replace the retired players/scots/coaches. I found a few guys with 4 star ratings so I had to sign them. There was one center midfielder from Denmark I got for less than a million and an English defender for £4.5m from Fulham. Those were the first two in my army for a second generation team in Newcastle haha!
During the January transfer window, I signed two guys on a loan deal. One was Darren Fletcher as back up and a guy I had not heard of before but he had a 4.5 star rating and for some reason, he was in the Monaco reserve team. His name was Geoffrey Kondogbia from France. He became my star player for the next few seasons. And just a few weeks ago in the real world, I heard that Inter Milan had signed Kondogbia for real. It just shows you how accurate the database in Football Manager is. I had to get him on a permanent deal so Monaco got £16m for me to bring him to Newcastle.
The season was just as good as the first, if not a bit more dramatic. Of course, we got Real Madrid in our group for our first season back in the Champions League. And guess what? We got them again for the quarter finals, they were too strong this time. As for FA Cup, we lost in the quarter finals there too. With five matches to go in the league, we lost to Tottenham and Liverpool to give Chelsea a chance to jump us. They entered the final game leading by a point. We had a home game against Notthingham Forest, who were looking to get a top 4 spot in their first season back in the EPL. Chelsea had to play away against Arsenal. So in the final game, Chelsea lost, we won and we are the champions for the second year running! Here’s the team that got the back-to-back EPL wins for me.
Year 2015/16 – Season 3
We’ve done it twice in a row, can we now do it thrice in a row? Before the season started, I decided to get rid of some guys who weren’t in my first team anymore or those whose star rating were starting to go down. Those who had 2.5 stars or lower, that was the time for them to go. I got £15m for three of them, good business there. I was sticking with my 4-5-1 tactic even though the goals weren’t coming in just yet. My main striker Papiss Cisse scored 22 goals and just 10 the season before. I was really considering signing a big name striker in place for him but I decided to give him one last chance to shine. 49 games later and 25 goals and he did just that.
A signed two more next-gen guys, both with German names, one from Germany and the other from Italy haha! I also signed Ronaldinho, yes the legendary Brazilian playmaker, on a 1-year deal and did good for me. Too bad for him, I found another star from Monaco. For whatever weird reason, James Rodriguez was left in the reserves and on the transfer list. I signed him for £6m and well, easily the best transfer bargain I ever got in my Newcastle game. I thought I had the best deal and then two days later, another one came.
This time it was a re-gen but this guy was no average joe. Jadan Mullin came from the Blackburn academy and my scouts recommended me to sign this guy. Why? He had a 5-star rating. Yes, 5-star! That means he had the potential to be a world class player. I didn’t know if I could get him but Blackburn did allow me to get him on loan. Then I noticed he had a clause on his contract, one of those exit clauses or whatever it’s called, and it was just £5.5m! I gave them that offer and after the next season, he would become a Newcastle player permanently. At just 17 years old, he was already getting a call up to the English national team. I’ve got my next Alan Shearer! And he too played for Blackburn haha!
The best transfer of all was having a new owner! Woohoo, see ya Mike Ashley. The new owner was considering replacing me with the Spanish boss because he had links in Spain but luckily he never did pull the trigger. It was another dramatic season. We were in the mix yet again. With 7 matches to go, the top 6 teams were covered by 5 points! Once again we had the quarter final curse, lost to Chelsea in the Champions League and Tottenham in the FA Cup. Once again it came down to the final match in EPL, but this time we were leading going into the last match but we had only taken the lead the previous round of matches. We had to beat Blackburn to win the league and we did just that, 1-0 and we were the English Premier League winners for the third year running! Am I dreaming?
Year 2016/17 – Season 4
Can we now go four in a row? I added two more re-gen with 4+ star ratings and two highly rated players. Kyriakos Papadopolous from Schalke and Johnathan Silva from Feyenoord. I only went after the latter when my right back Clyne left for Man City (we got a £3m profit out of him) and that we had Feyenoord as our feeder team with first options on their players. When Man United tried to get him I had to try my luck and we got him. I had four of my players loaned to Wolverhampton, three of them highly rated too and they ended up winning the English League One, and they’re not our feeder team in England, which was Leeds United who were still struggling in the Championship, the next tier above them.
Once again, Cisse wasn’t getting the goals for me. In fact, his back-up Wickham got as many goals as he did, 12 for both. My right winger Hartem Ben Arfa had just one less goal than those two. As for my wonderkid English striker, I sent him on loan to get first team experience. Which team did he go to? Manchester United haha! He didn’t score that many goals for them thankfully.
We struggled big time this season. We started well but faded away in the mid point. We weren’t in the fight for the league this time, Manchester City were just too strong for any team. Once again we had the quarter final curse, FA Cup loss to Tottenham and Champions League loss to Real Madrid. At least we did have the Capital One Cup to celebrate, winning the final against West Brom through penalties haha! As for the league, we only finished 6th and we got lucky, we were 8th with three games to go! We just sneaked into an European spot but no Champions League for us next season, it’s Euro Cup and guess what, some of my star players wanted to leave because we didn’t get Champions League football. I somehow convinced them to stay, saying we’ll win the league next season.
Year 2017/18 – Season 5
Big talk to the players about winning the league again, but can I back it up this time? Not much happened with the transfers. I got John Stones for £14.5m and sold the greek defender for £10m. It was one of those rare years where we made a profit, we got more money from selling players than what we bought. Good business there again. I was getting a bit bored of my team’s lack of goals so I changed my tactic to a 4-2-2-2 formation, or a 4-4-2 or 4-2-4, whatever makes you happy.
It worked like a treat. Newcastle ended up scoring more goals than the other teams. Cisse scored 37 goals, the wonderkid Mullin scored 31 goals and even my winger James Rodriguez got 25 goals! My back-up striker Wickham got himself 14 goals too. It was probably my best season to date. Ok, we lost to Tottenham in the Capital One semi-finals but who cares about that one? We were in the fight for the English league again, did really well in the Euro Cup and the FA Cup.
Also during that season, I decided to have some fun with the press. I would usually answer every question with a calm respone. I decided to change things around, being assertive sometimes, passionate on other times and I’d add extra comments to have some fun. One time, I decided to have a go at Jose Mourinho. Chelsea and Newcastle had a serious rivalry going on so I had to go after him. And well, this is what happened. I had no idea the game knew I was swearing haha, not bad at all!
13th May 2018 was the first of three “finals” we had. We beat West Brom 5-0 to seal the English Premier League, the fourth time we had won it under my reign, which meant Newcastle were now 8 times English league champions. I’ve already doubled our league title reigns! 3 days later, it was off to Hungary for the Euro Cup final against Manchester United. We beat them 3-0, my first continental championship with the team. 3 days later, we completed our treble, beating Arsenal 2-0 for the FA Cup, my first FA Cup win with the team.
It didn’t end there. Most of the other managers in previous seasons would go after my team for not having many English players, and that I preferred to sign foreign players. So to see three of my players get picked for the English World Cup team, well, suck it you clowns! Not just that, my two strikers (Mullin & Wickham) were the main choices for England! Too bad the story was the same for them as usual, knocked out I the quarter finals. Seems like we have that problem too.
Year 2018/19 – Season 6
Once again, we made more money from selling players than we did losing money for buying players. Most of that came from Conor Wickham’s move to Manchester United, which cost them £27m. Why did I sell him? He only had a 3 star rating and they were crazy enough to accept my version of the offer for that amount so I was more than happy to do that business. And what did I do with the money, sign three highly rated re-gen players and Hayden White from Brentford for a total of £20m. Again, good business there. I’d rather pay small for the next big stars then buy big for the current big stars. That’s the way I prefer to do my transfer dealings in Football Manager.
I could see there were changes to be made. My established stars were starting to lose their potential and the younger players were starting to do better. While my midfield line-up were still the same, my defence looked different (and younger). In fact, my captain since day 1, Fabrico Colocini, wasn’t my first choice any more so I made Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa as my captain. As for strikers, Cisse wasn’t my first choice anymore too. Mullin was the lead guy and Adam Campbell, who had spent the last four seasons out on loan (Brentford, Celtic, Wolverhampton and Celtic again), was now my second choice. The local guy may have scored 5 goals less than Cisse but he did have a better average rating throughout the season.
30 goals from Mullin made him the top goal scorer of the season. He won the Players’ Young Player award, good one lad. As for the competitions, we lost to Chelsea in two quarter-finals, the Captial One Cup and the FA Cup and got knocked out at the 2nd round in the Champions League by the eventual winners FC Porto. We may have won 25 games in the league but still lost 9 games so we ended up with just 4th at the end. Even a last day defeat to Man City couldn’t help their neighbours Man United to take the Champions League spot away from us.
Year 2019/20 – Season 7
Not much changed with the team. Davide Santon left for Manchester United, £22m in the pocket so thanks for that! I bought James Wilson in since Aston Villa were relegated and he did have a 4-star rating, why not? The other was a re-gen from Crystal Palace, he was a left back but he had a 4.5 star rating, that is world class potential right there.
More of the young guys were taking first team spots. My center midfielder re-gen from Denmark was now a first team regular. My German center back was the first choice guy in defence too, moving Stones to a right back, which was his natural position so no worries there, worked nicely haha! Mr Mullin was at it again up front, once again the top scorer with 32 goals in the league. The next best? My right winger Ben Arfa with 23 goals. Campbell only scored 20 goals but strangely enough, only 8 in the league. When it came to Champions League, he was THE man. 10 goals! Only Lionel Messi scored more than the local Newcastle lad.
Wanna guess how we did in the cup competitions? Yup, eliminated in the Quarter Finals in both the FA Cup by Arsenal and Champions League by Barcelona. Typical English team eh? The English Premier League came down to a straight fight between us and Manchester City. We went into the last game with the same amount of points, we were leading with the better goal difference. A 4-2 hammering to Norwich and we won the English Premier League for the 5th time in my reign.
The team had the best season statistically. 93 points, the most for us. 29 wins too! And we scored 102 goals. Yes, we’re in the three digits. And one match really helped that out. We were hosting Arsenal, 5th in the league and a team who can beat anyone, anywhere, anytime. I was a bit worried that they would beat us as Man City was closing us at that point. Well, that match was out of this world. We won 9-4. Yes, 9-4. This is Arsenal we’re talking about, and we scored NINE goals against them. That’s the most my team has ever scored in any match. And against Arsenal of all teams too.
Year 2020/21 – Season 8 and Current Season
It’s taken 8 seasons but now my second generation players have taken over the team. Tiote, Sissoko & Cisse, who were all first choice players in my first six seasons, were all gone. That meant the only players to remain with the first team since I took over was Tim Krul, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa (even though he’s been chased by all the big teams for all these seasons), Vurnon Anita and Hartem Ben Arfa. Just four of them remain and guess what? Anita & Ben Arfa are no longer my first choices too in their positions.
I had one of my busier transfer seasons. All seven players who joined us were re-gens. Three of them with 4.5 star rating and of those three, two of them came from Atletico Madrid on a free so thanks for that! What a steal I got there. One of the players I got, the deal was done two seasons ago but since Argentina had this law now allowing under 18 players to leave, he could only join us in 2020. He had a better rating than the Spanish lad but I didn’t think I could give him first team football so I loaned him out. And guess what? In 31 game for Fiorentina, he’s scored 25 goals. He’ll slot into my team perfectly next season.
Also, the Newcastle academy were starting to produce some real potential stars. For two seasons in a row, we got a 4 star player from our academy, and the best we had before that was just a 3 star lad who now only has a 2 star rating. We even got a Singaporean guy with a 1.5 star rating. Before him, I had 3 Singaporeans, all with only 0.5 star rating. Since I’m a Singaporean manager, there will be the rare Singaporean making it into the academy team with an added English nationality haha! No need for work permits there. Hopefully we can find the next Alan Shearer. Or in this case, Jadan Mullin. Speaking of the devil, this is the fella as of right now, a legend for me already and he’s only 22:
As of right now (the game is in April 8th 2021), we’ve got six more games to go in the English Premier League and yes, we’ve found our way to the top again. We’re leading Manchester City by two points, but that could change with Manchester United a game behind and two points behind them. Tottenham in 4th are 8 points behind so really, it’s a battle of the Northern teams, Newcastle United, Manchester United and Manchester City. We’ve also got Champions League action to look forward to. Yes, it’s the quarter finals but guess what? We’re leading in the first leg over Manchester City, and we beat them 1-0 at their home game. Can we finally make it to the semi-finals? As for the FA Cup, we didn’t even make the quarter finals, knocked out by Manchester United in the 5th round. Six games left in the English league in our hopes for a sixth English league championship in my reign. The matches we’ve got:
Vs Norwich (H)
Vs West Ham (A)
Vs Cardiff (H)
Vs Arsenal (A)
Vs Manchester City (H)
Vs West Brom (A)
And my team as of right now:
Both the Manchester teams have got a similar run-in to the final matches. The second last game will surely decide the league. So that’s the story of my run as Newcastle United manager. I’ve really enjoyed this current game and heck, I had planned to do 10 years with the team before possibly trying my luck as the England national team manager but I might stay on to see how my new generation does. That, or maybe I should try my hand in another top league in Germany or Italy. But for right now, I plan to keep winning with Newcastle. I’ve made them one of the biggest teams in the game, so why leave right now?
If you’ve managed to read the whole thing, thank you! I’m sorry I wasted maybe 5-10 of your life reading about my game but yeah, that’s how free I am these days. I really got nothing to do right now!